Norton kicked off his speech by stating, “people are being witch hunted for expressing an opinion.” Adding that it’s not the McCarthyism-era of the government taking us down, rather others are taking each other to task as we’re in, “a culture of 10 year old kid sisters,” waiting to snitch each other out. The thrust of the speech was that the primary role of comedians is to bring levity to the most heinous of situations in order to figure them out.
Here’s the full text transcription:
Thank you, everybody and thank you, Tom let’s clear something up. I didn’t ask Tom to come and introduce me because that really makes me sound like an ass who needs a big thing. They said to me like, do you want anyone to introduce you or do you want to just walk up? I’m like well I kind of feel like a dick if I just walk up on stage. So alright, I’ll have Tom come to introduce me so then they come in the back you know, we have an MC who does that. So I guess we’ll just bring up Tom. And I’m like “how humiliating is this?”Like they’re intro-ing a guy to do my intro. And they said to Tom, do you want an introduction or do you want to walk up. And pompous Tom goes, no I’d like an introduction. [laughter]
He’s the only guy that ever had credits read before he brought on someone to give a speech. I appreciate you coming, I really do because I was a little nervous about this then a sole a show. Because there’s nothing more humiliating then when no one wants to come and see you for free. And uh, so I guess to get right down to it, that was a nice intro Tom, thank you very much. Jim is nice. Jim works hard. Jim is good person. Jim once helped an old woman cross the street and he’s never sodomized an infant, please welcome… [laughter]
But I appreciate you being here. Now onto my speech… laughter. No I’m kidding..[laughter] I’m supposed to be really dramatic, what is laughter?! No I don’t know how to do this, I’m a little nervous about it but it’s not the idea of talking in front of people. This is very foreign to what it is we do. Because l don’t have it memorized. You know what I mean. I have probably the first 45-50 minutes down. I’m kidding, it’s going to be a 20 minute talk and then you can all go and do whatever it is that you want to do just stay for Brooklyn…. I think most of you are just here for f*cking Brooklyn 9-9 which starts in an hour and I happen to be talking first. I guess I will say I’m honored to be doing this and you sound like such a cheesed*ck to be saying that but it really is and you don’t want to say that and you want to pawn it off like it’s not a big deal. Like when I was first asked, my first thought was like ok well they’re saying, “Jim could you do this?” That means that Louie and Amy and Aziz and Kevin Hart all said no. I would love to know who said no before they’re like, Jim Norton’s available at a moment’s notice.
But it does feel good to be asked to do it. And immediately you’re like, “I’m not gonna do it, f*ck that, like you know my mind says you know, “f*ck you industry!” childish. Another response you had that you felt majorly cool like your first three years in the business. You know you say, “f*ck the industry,” they go “wow he’s a rebel, this guy.” I find that most comics are typically, we are filled with a lot of self-hatred or delusions of grandeur. And we tend to go back and forth in between those things with nothing else. It’s one or the other. So if they didn’t ask me to do this speech I would be very resentful that I didn’t get the respect I deserve. But when they do ask me, my first thought is, Oh I don’t know guys, I don’t think I can do it. Um, so it’s nice to be asked to do it. Then I look back and I’m like well I don’t know man, can you do this? Because Marc Maron has done it, and Collin [Quinn], and Patton [Oawalt], and Lewis Black. You know somebody with low self-esteem says “no” and then my megalomania kicks in and I think well f*ck Colin and Lewis and Patton and Maron. These hacks can do it, of course you can do it. I’ve watched enough comedians self-destruct and kind of fall on their faces so I figure, “f*ck it, I’d rather come up and not do a good job and just give myself an excuse not to do it.” So I do thank you guys at the festival for asking me. And I don’t even know why I have any hesitation to do this. Because this is kind of what every comedian wants. Like, you get to stand up here, there’s no pressure to be funny whatsoever. You give your opinions on the business and other comics have to sit there f*ckin’ take it. This is a wet dream for a comic, to stand up here and give your opinion and not have to get one laugh. My fear, I think if I have any fear about it, is that you are standing up here and people are going, “wow that guys a fraud.” And that’s always my greatest fear as a comedian. That someday I’m going to look back at myself and realize that wow I’m not genuine. Up here I kind of know that I can’t bullsh*t because you can’t lie to a room full of comedians. You know people in the business, no disrespect to you, but you can be… lied to. I think that every time I hear a 16 year old getting a development deal because he’s got eigh great minutes of material. Like whenever someone in the business is like, “this guy’s the next…” Whenever someone says that, you know that guy is an asshole and that guy is gonna flop. [laughter]
I remember the first interview I did in a newspaper, I was very young it was like 1990, and I remember the guy asked, “do you mind if I call you the next Robin Williams?” I thought that was such a cool thing to be called then he asked me what I like to talk about and I’m like, “uh, game shows.”
I just threw that in there.
But, I think what I’m going to talk about mostly is this obsession that our culture kind of has with apologies and this perpetual state of being victimized by comedy gone too far. And this pathetic and dishonest obsession people have with being constantly offended. Like, I don’t know why all of a sudden comedians are expected to respect the boundaries and comfort levels of the public. Like Richard Pryor didn’t respect them, Lenny Bruce didn’t respect them. George Carlin didn’t respect them. And when society draws a line in the sand, it’s like a comic’s instinct to not only step over the line but kind of rub it out with your foot and be belligerent about it.
And it’s impossible for me at least to respect the moral lines that people draw for their comfort level simply because any morality that says subjects shouldn’t be joked about, I find that really hard to get in line with. The public scoldings and punishments that are handed out, they’re inconsistent and they vary from performer to performer. So how do you line up and say, “I respect that morality,” when one day this is gonna get you, and the next day that is gonna get you? I don’t think as a result we should go up on stage and be purposefully malicious and pointlessly antagonistic. I just don’t think we should shy away from subjects because we’re afraid of getting in trouble.
I don’t mean to be untrue to who you are as a comic. Like, I don’t want to see Brain Regan go up and do Michael Richard’s Laugh Factory set. [laughter] Let me correct myself, I want nothing more than to see Brain Regan go up, [mimicking]. It just seems right now we’re in a place where people are being witch hunted for expressing an opinion. Even if it’s a lousy opinion or a sh*tty opinion. In comics, I don’t think you ever fall into the trap of lining up with groups who want to censor what a person says or thinks or punish a person for expressing what they think. Because anything you say about a social issue is going to offend half the country. I don’t care how nicely you say it, I don’t care how well you construct the joke, simply by stating the opinion, you are for something and anti-something else. So half the people are going to love what you said and think it’s brilliant or intuitive and the other half are going to say you’re and offensive pig. And if comedians have boundaries about subjects that we cover, I don’t think we progressed much since the 1950s when you got in trouble for talking about sex or Catholicism. And, I understand the legal difference between being arrested on stage by the state and the network threatening to drop you if you don’t apologize for calling paparazzi a c*cksucker. I just don’t think that when most of us think of freedom of expression or freedom of comedic thought that we think as harshly as arrested or not arrested. I think you know it means a little bit more than that. So when people say, “you aren’t being arrested for saying…” I get that, but I don’t think that just because you’re not being arrested that you’re ability to say what you want to say isn’t being kind of stepped on.
I like the freedom to jump around any subject no matter how awful, no matter how painful the subject because, like a lot of you, that’s what made me funny. It was always taking the things that hurt me and I would make fun of them and that was kind of what made me who I am as a comic. I’m not trying to be overly dramatic when I say McCarthyism but the difference between that thinking and McCarthyism now is that it’s not the government doing it anymore. The government doesn’t come after you anymore, we’re doing it to each other. It used to be you go before a committee and some asshole would sit you down and ask,“What are your neighbors talking about” and well “I think they’re Communist.” And now it’s each other. Releasing each other’s private emails and people having to apologize for jokes and things they’ve said in private. The government doesn’t need to step in and do that we’re just snitching on each other. It’s like we’ve turned into a culture of 10 year old kid sisters who just like to wait for the older sibling to f*ck up so they can point and go “ooooh, did you hear what he said?” And I hate when people will say like manipulative things, “so what are you saying like rape and murder are funny?” Like they really think that have you when they say something like that because that’s automatically, [mimicking] “of course I don’t think rape is funny.” And then they think they’ve won the argument because rape is not funny. Murder is not funny; however, jokes about rape or murder or any other horrible subject can be funny. I don’t think that any subject should be off limits. I kind of think that it’s all the way you come to the joke. I think the idea of being able to make fun of anything of the human experience, that sentiment has been lost on a great part of our culture because people keep finding their own sacred cow and saying “well, this is the one thing you shouldn’t talk about.” Like you can make fun of this and you can make fun of that, but stay away from race, and stay away from sexual identities, or gender or whatever it is. I don’t think we should avoid unpleasant subjects simply because they’re unpleasant. There was a rumor about a very well-known comic who was doing some panel talk show, and they had the topics in advance, and it there was one of the topics that he didn’t want to talk about. He’s like “well I don’t want to catch any flack” and I’m like, is that were we are as a business, being afraid to address a subject because you don’t want to get in trouble? How sh*tty is that?
I’m not saying you have to be untrue to you and go up and blast a subject that you feel personally connected to and be harsh. But what kind of comedian won’t address a subject just because they don’t want to get in trouble? To me, does anyone look back on the days when Lenny Bruce got in trouble or when you couldn’t make fun of sex publically as a good time in comedy? Does anybody look back on the fact that Joan Rivers could say “pregnant” on The Ed Sullivan Show, does anybody look back and go, “that was a great time in comedy because she had to say it a certain way to make it palatable for everybody. I’m really glad that Lenny got in trouble because he was using trigger words that were hurtful…” [laughter]
Another manipulative thing that people will say when you bring this stuff up is, “well why is it important for you to make fun of these things? Why do you feel like you have to make fun of me?” Is another way of kind of putting you in the corner like, you’re the asshole for bringing it up and they’re not in any way shape or form, flawed for being bothered by it. And I’ll tell you why it’s important to make fun of these things or why I want to make fun of these things, because every other artist has the right to address things. An actor or an author or a songwriter can address any subject they want without repercussions, and why, because they don’t make fun of it, that somehow makes them more artistic than the comedian? Look at Michael Fassbender in 12 Years a Slave or Kevin Bacon in The Woodsman, or any other film that I’ve jerked-off to. [laughter] But look at these guys, they’re addressing this dark side of humanity, this terrible side. Or DiCaprio in Django [unchainded] playing this horrible slave master. They know the role before they accept it, but as performers and artists, they want to get into that headspace, they want to address that part of the human experience. But as a comedian, if you address it, you’re insensitive and you’re an asshole. Well look, unfortunately the only way for us to address that stuff is to do it in humor. I’m not talking really humorously now, but you can’t go on stage in front of a paying audience and stand up there and give a f*cking speech about something, you have to address it in humor. So I don’t know how we’re supposed to do that without offending or bothering somebody.
People go, “that’s not a funny subject, so you shouldn’t talk about it.” But I think any asshole can address something that is inherently funny. If that’s the only thing we’re supposed to talk about you don’t need comedians. Anybody can just point at something that’s already funny. Has anyone ever watch the video of the dog sliding on linoleum who thought like, “whoever filmed that would be a great comedian! Because that’s f*cking hilarious!” [laughter] I think the gift of what we do as comics – and I would only say this to a room full of comedians – but I think the gift of it is we take things that aren’t funny and we allow people to look at them in a way that makes them laugh. I’m not using that as a justification to address harsh subjects, that’s honestly how I feel about it. Again, an extreme example, but when cops were pulling bodies out of John Wayne Gacy’s house, they were making fun of it and they were joking about because the honesty and the reality of what they were doing was so horrible. Most of us are obviously not doing that, but that to me is where that type of gallows humor comes from. So it’s not this unjustified desire to be a frat boy jerk-off, I mean it really is based on what has always kind of made me realize who we are as funny people. And they tell these weird lies wanting to justify and dictate what our content is. Like, “what you guys say is heard by a lot of people.” I love that one, “here’s why you shouldn’t make fun of things, because a lot of people will hear it,” the arrogance of that.
I’m not out to convert people or change people’s opinions about anything. Any more than watching a comedian will change my opinion or convert me to anything. I don’t agree with a lot of what Paul Mooney says. You know, if you’re white you really can’t. But I still love watching Paul Mooney. I loved watching Paul Mooney, there’s nothing I enjoy more. [mimicking] You can’t not enjoy that. I’m not offended by that, I’m not like, how can he say that about white people. I just enjoy watching it. So I think you can watch somebody you disagree with or don’t click with and still remain who you are.
I saw Joan Rivers. One of the greatest stand-ups I’ve ever seen, was Joan Rivers about 5 years ago at The Cutting Room in New York City. She went up and did probably the harshest set I’ve ever seen a stand-up do. There was not 100 people in the room – it was on purpose though, she didn’t like have 600 possible seats. She just stood there for an hour. She was probably 75 years old at the time, 80 years old, and I wanted to cry when she was finished, because what she did was so pure. Like, she didn’t hold anything back she was f*cking brutal – 9/11 jokes, AIDS jokes, jokes that I would never make. She was like [mimicking oh, oh blood on my fur coat!] like, holy sh*t. Without one ounce of worrying about offending someone’s personal line. I’m not saying that’s what you have to do to be a good comic, but that’s what struck me, that’s what we should be doing. Taking whatever it is that makes us who we are, whatever it is that we want to make fun of, and bringing it on stage without worrying about getting in any kind of trouble for it or any type of penalty for it. Everyone in the room did not enjoy what she did. My girlfriend and I loved it because we are both comics, but there were a few people that had just seen her do some celebrity interviews on the carpet and thought, “oh let’s just watch her, she’s kind of cute. I saw her on Carol Burnett in 1975,” and they were horrified! She said c*nt in the first 3 minutes and they were f*cking mortified. I happen to enjoy it. I walked out of that room, I didn’t feel like aids was any less serious. I didn’t feel like 9/11 was any less serious because I had laughed. Laughing at jokes about those subjects didn’t make have less respect for the seriousness of those subjects. It didn’t make me feel any less love or empathy for victims of that stuff. So that’s a lie that people use to try to get you to not talk about subjects that they find personally uncomfortable or upsetting. And I’m sick of people babbling about, “well you know you can say what you want but a lot of responsibility comes with that.” Oh, f*ck you! A comedian’s job, I think that we’re responsible just for being funny and being original, or attempting to be funny and original. That’s where our responsibility begins and ends. What about the responsibility of the f*cking audience member? What about their responsibility to comprehend that they’re hearing something that they know is being said in humor and they have the ability to laugh or not laugh accordingly. Why do bloggers and audience members and special interest groups suddenly have zero responsibility for accurately interpreting the content of what they’re hearing? Why is it only the comedian that has a responsibility? Why isn’t the audience member’s responsibility for willingly walking into that situation where they know they’re going to hear something that could be offensive or upsetting or objectionable and still getting offended? There’s no responsibility by them and their reaction. All of a sudden, a room full of people who enjoy something are invalidated and the one person who is bothered by it, is suddenly the focal point where everybody goes, “oh my god you were right. You walked into a situation where you knew something could be made fun of but you were right to have gotten upset and all of those people are wrong for enjoying it and that person is wrong for saying it.” When did comedians become the people that you are supposed to interpret literally? Like, we’re contributing all of a sudden to rape culture, and racism, and violence in society. If someone kills themselves after listening to a Judas Priest record, nobody says that Judas Priest is bad. We all kind of collectively understand that that person was an asshole who killed themselves. But if you’re a comedian and you offend someone, they cart you out and you have to go on the apology tour. It seems like the people who complain the most about not liking labels are the first ones to put a label on a comedian as offensive or misogynistic, or racist or homophobic We, we do what we do because we want attention, as a comedian I like attention. Now all you need to do if you want attention is just kind of feign moral indignation or write a blog about somebody who hurt their feelings in a comedy club.
My co-host obviously recently had an issue, Anthony of Opie & Anthony, if you don’t know what happened I’ll sum it up quickly. He was out taking pictures with his big camera and people thought that Anthony was creeping on people and you know, look, he has a big camera in the studio all the time. A lot of times when you hit 50 and you have no children or love, [laughter] you photograph things. I’m not even knocking Anthony, I’m 46 and I’m eyeing up cameras. I’m f*ckin’ right behind him. But he was assaulted.
A black woman assaulted him and he just got into, I guess a yelling match, and he has a gun he’s always had a gun, and he didn’t pull his gun or do anything stupid like that. He went on Twitter afterwards and kind of went on a Twitter rampage. And he said a lot of sh*t that I felt like, “eh, he probably should have rephrased that. You know what I mean,” because you can say a bunch of things. But on Twitter when you say a bunch of things in a row sometimes the water gets a little bit cloudy. And each tweet, if you send out a tweet that requires and explanation, you’re f*cked. Every tweet has to stand on its own as a beginning middle and an end. Because people who read that tweet aren’t going to all of a sudden invite you to their house, and go “well what did you mean by that? Well, technically I was only saying that people who behave this way are animals,” and they say “okay thank you. Now I won’t be mad at you.” Because even when people do understand the context, like when they were “Cancelling Colbert,” the group that was coming after him said, “yes we do understand why he said those racist Asian terms, he was trying to point out how Native Americans were treated with The Redskins. So we do understand the context and we want him canceled anyway. So a lot of times it’s not a misunderstanding, they get it and they just kind of want to nail you anyway. So I think of what some of what Anthony said he would have said I wish he would’ve said differently.
But the important thing for me is the way the press ran with the story. The story wasn’t, “Guy’s Assaulted, Doesn’t Hit Woman Back.” The story was, “Radio Host Says Sh*tty Things on Twitter” that’s what the story becomes. So what do you do, how you react and how you behave is not important, it’s what you say that’s important. Somebody pointed out on the radio show, I don’t remember who it was, but can you imagine, that’s how you know that things in America are really good, like can you imagine if the big problem in Gaza was that people were sending angry tweets at each other? [laughter] “When they said that I thought, hmm, that’s a good point, I’ll put that in my speech.” [laughter] But at the last minute I had to credit somebody else.
I just think that maybe that is a sign that we’re doing well, a comedian says the word “tranny’”and it gets more f*cking press coverage than the Faty Arbuckle trial. Here’s the problem with it – I’m going to wrap up soon I don’t mean to ramble about this – it’s arbitrary what can get you in trouble. It’s hard to respect the boundaries because it’s always changing. Well a black comedian might be able to say this about a white comedian and a white comedian might be able to say this about an Asian comedian but an Asian comedian should not say that about a woman or transgender. It’s almost like there’s so many subheadings and little landmines to avoid. How are you supposed to respect that line in the sand because it’s constantly moving?
Carlin had the 7 dirty words. Those are the seven dirty words you can’t say – sh*t, piss, f*ck, cunt, cocksucker, motherf*cker, and tits. Nobody can say those. No radio broadcaster can say them. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Latin station, or a white station, or a black station. If you say them on the radio you will be fined by the FCC. It’s the other stuff that kind of bothers me. So I guess a big part of the problem, I think, is that nobody communicates honestly with each other. To tell you the truth, we’re all saying what we think we need to say to not get in trouble. We all say something and then we’re like, no I didn’t mean that, I really meant this. And then we the fake apology we pretend that we’re outraged when we’re not.
By the way, for a male dominated business, such as stand-up comedy, the people showing real courage are the women. The women in our business are the ones that – I’m not saying that for some cheap sh*tty applause break because I’ve been single for 3 years [laughter], I really mean it. If you look recently at the people who have stood up to controversy, Natasha Leggero, Amy Schumer, Chelsea Handler, Joan Rivers; they’re the ones who’ve been attacked for jokes and they have not only refused to apologize, they have mocked the idea of an apology. They’ve been aggressive in combating the idea of the apology. So I think that all of us should follow suit and if you’re sorry about something, say you’re sorry. I’m not saying don’t apologize or it’s wrong, I said something really sh*tty about Steve Martin in my book and I felt bad about it. I genuinely felt bad about it. Especially when he confronted me about it, you’ve never seen somebody f*cking worm up and collapse as fast as I did. When I was interviewing him on The Tonight Show, it was an Emmys piece or whatever and he looked at my seat and goes, “Jim Norton, you said some unkind things about me in your book.” You know, Steve Martin just looks at me like you’re garbage. I was like, “I really didn’t mean it. I was having a tough time. I’m a really bit fan. I think your remakes are better than the original!” [laughter] But I genuinely felt bad about that and then trying to apologize on Twitter.
I guess in closing I will say again, I’m sorry for the kind of rambling nature of this. Advice to new comedians, a little bit of advice to new comics, because I always try to take time to talk to new comedians, this woman named Lynn Vecchio, who I’ll never forget, I met her at the first comedy show I ever went to in 1990, I was 21. I never saw her since that day and I told her I wanted to do stand-up and she took me outside and she talked to me for about a half hour, she listened to my questions and she showed me a lot of love. It was this person I’ve never talked to and it was 25 years ago. So I always try to take time for a new comic – I won’t have time after this, but I do it in general – [laughter] I’m very busy up here at the festival doing podcasts, especially after this I’ll sit down with my self important speech.
I know there are people out there who are going to blog about this and f*cking hang me with my own words. That’s why I should have just ran it verbatim but when I was reading it, it just felt too rehearsed, like the f*cking grandson in The Godfather when Brando came home, “from your grandson Frank.”
I knew I shouldn’t have said that line! I knew it wouldn’t get a laugh. [laughter] I’m not talking to a room of 58 year old men.
A little advice to new comedians: stop thinking you’re interesting like being here at the Montreal festival saying, “God I hate festivals.” No you don’t, we all love the festivals. I used to say that when I came up here, like “don’t you f*cking hate these things? How many times did you audition to get up here? Fourteen, fourteen times.” [laughter]
Stop thinking you’re original saying, “I hate going to LA because the people are fake.” They are, but we all kind of knew that going in so stop thinking that you’re being smart or New Yorky by saying that. Our business is filled with liars, just understand that. It’s easier for them to lie. It doesn’t mean that they’re bad people or scumbags, because they’re really not. My manager is such a good guy, and such an optimistic guy. “Jim! So-and-so is a big fan. And I’m like, “John he’s not a big fan, he’s the head of a network. They haven’t given my anything in 11 years. He told you he was a big fan because you were at a party and you said, “what do you think of Jim?” What do you think he’s going to do, be honest? “Well he’s a hunk of sh*t we’ll never use him.” It’s just easier for him to lie to you and go, “oh he’s great, we’re all big fans.” You know so my manager sometimes gets his hopes up. A lot of times you just have to look at what people do. Kind of like in the Anthony situation, it’s finding that what people do tells a lot more than what they say in any given moment. Be careful of bitterness. We have to be careful not to be too bitter. “Well the business only rewards mediocrity.” Which again, is true in some cases, but then there’s guys who do deserve what they get, like Bill Burr and f*cking Louis C.K. and other people who are not creepy Boston redheads. [laughter] Guys like them, or Amy [Scumer], they really enraging in a way because they kind of shatter my thought which is like you can’t break through if you’re smart or edgy, but these are all smart and edgy comics and a lot of them are smart and edgy. So it’s really easy to sit there go, “the f*cking business doesn’t get me.” The business gets me fine, they’ve just said “no.” [laughter]
The temptation to say that you’re a dark horse man, giving everybody a tough pill to swallow, no you’re not. I would say a bit of advice, try to avoid certain hacky improvs, I’ve learned that, don’t interpret what an audience member is thinking, that’s really awful. If you do a joke about a woman being a lesbian and you find a girl and she’s thinking like “look at her, I’d go that way if this guy hit on me,” she’s not thinking that. She’s thinking I wish this f*cking guy would get off and the local middle would do 45 more minutes. Don’t fall into the trap of a young comic – if you want to be clean, be clean. If you’re a dirty person, be dirty. But there’s no valor in cleanliness. There’s no valor in shockingly dirty. There’s only, I think, valor in being original and being yourselves. So if you’re a piece of sh*t, be that. You know you can’t curse on network television. I don’t think you’re dangerous in dropping the n-bomb on Fallon. I don’t mean be a f*cking idiot but don’t start using cute words like, instead of c*ck I’m going to say “my doonaner” and people are going to think oh, he’s really clever. As my late friend Otto Peterson would say… kill yourself. [laughter]
Maybe you’re just clapping because that joke is over? I don’t know why I said that, “my late friend,” oh f*ck me. Do you know how awful it is to get stonefaced? Do you know how hard you have to work to quote Otto and bomb in front of other comedians? [laughter] Otto could get laughs at another comedian’s wake and I quote him and you’re like, “no that’s the one thing Otto said that we didn’t enjoy. If you’re a new comedian, please don’t go over your time by 10 minutes and then telling the audience, “alright, they’re telling me I have to go,” just to hear the crowd go, ohh, f*ck you. Because the comedian after you hates your f*cking guts. And stop fake laughing at your own punchlines, that’s annoying. Always be nice to other comedians, I find that to be true because other comedians have been tremendous to me, if it was not for people Collin Quin, Louis C.K., and Amy Schumer. My last television credit would have been 1998. So thank god my friends have put me… Sometimes I think the only reason they’ve used me in things is so they don’t see my stupid face at the Comedy Cellar looking like, “how’s the project guys?” Sometimes I just think that my absolute failure has shamed them. And another bit of advice, would be to – I don’t enjoy comedy as much as I used to – don’t watch a tremendous amount of comedians. I was co-headlining a lot with Dave Attell, Dave and I tour quite a bit. And by co-headlined, I mean we split the money and I’d always make him go on last because nobody wants to follow 45 minutes of Attell. I’d do my 45 and Dave would do his, we’d kind of improv for like 20 minutes and talk to the audience and that’s always fun. But in my time when I come back up before Dave brings me on and I’ll always see 5 minutes of his set and he always says something so f*cking funny and brilliant that it just makes me want to get out of the business. So a lot of times I find watching other comedians can be damaging because I don’t want to pick up their mannerisms and I don’t want to become them. And if you’re doing comedy for under 5 years, believe me, other comedians recognize when you’re on stage going [mimicking], we know where you got it from. Just be yourself and don’t watch other comedians because you’re going to pick up their sh*t.
Although, I probably should have watched one [speech] that had a stronger closing. I only saw Collin’s last year and Colin kindfa riffed for a half hour on microphone and what we understood, we enjoyed.
I guess I’ll say that none of us are 100% honest on stage and it’s okay. Like being honest is important but don’t think you’re going to break the mold. We all bullsh*t a little bit, we’ve all forgotten our act and instead of telling the audience, oh I don’t know where to go from here, you go, wow you guys are a f*cking good crowd. Or a bachelorette party yells something and you laugh along with them instead of yelling “cunt” so you don’t get a shot glass thrown at you. We’ve all done that. No I’ll be 100% honest on stage and say I had a little higher hopes for an ending there.
I do appreciate the festival asking me – and there’s no way in a room full of comedians, by the way, that I can try to stretch and close strong – I have to just f*cking take that one on the chin and then walk off. That’s the worst part about talking to comics is every f*cking trick in the book. Like, I couldn’t look at Jeffrey Gurian, if I had known you were here, I would have done a whole f*cking set. This is why I hate Jeffrey Gurian, you’re a nice guy, but and if you don’t know Jeffrey he looks like he’s in the Maxell commercial. He just pops up unpleasant, “can I interview you?” No Jeffrey I’m at a urinal. He just pops up like Zelig, at bad times. When Patrice’s wake was happening Jeffrey popped up in the casket, “can I talk to ya when this is over?” He told us our flight was cancelled yesterday at LaGuardia airport so we stand in line for 45 minutes and it was only delayed. Alright well thank you very much to the festival and I appreciate it and you’ve honored me greatly by asking me to do this. And thank you guys for listening, I appreciate it.
Thanks very much.